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Jewish World Review April 13, 2000 /8 Nissan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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In defense of an armed citizenry -- WITH THE ANNIVERSARIES of Waco, Oklahoma City, Ruby Ridge, and Columbine fast approaching, those of us who keep and bear arms will once again be scapegoated and demonized by press and politicians. We will be cast as the nation's greatest threat to our children's safety and ostracized as anti-government extremists.

But if it weren't for the courage and convictions of an armed citizenry willing to go to extremes, none of us would be here today.

This week marks another anniversary that will undoubtedly be overlooked by the gun-control juggernaut: April 19, 1775 is Patriots Day. It's a legal holiday in Massachusetts and Maine commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord. Surely, the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War ought to be a national holiday.

Fed up with Mother England's oppressive taxes and infringements on their right to self-government, colonial subjects in Massachusetts formed their own shadow government. The state's Provincial Congress urged town militias to train and collect weapons. Gov. Thomas Gage, commander of the British troops, demanded that the Massachusetts assembly disband. When it refused, the British directed Gage to destroy rebel munitions.

Beginning in the fall of 1774, Gage's troops attempted to raid military storage depots in Cambridge and Salem. Citizens in Concord and neighboring towns formed companies to "stand at a minute's warning in case of an alarm." These quick-response teams– known as the minutemen – drilled thrice weekly and prepared for armed resistance.

On April 18, 1775, a young boy overheard the Redcoats plotting the capture of revolutionary leaders Sam Adams and John Hancock. Paul Revere embarked on a heroic midnight ride to warn his countrymen. The rest, of course, is history – history that fewer and fewer young Americans are taught in public schools. How many students "know the rest," in Longfellow's famous words, "in the books you have read:"

"How the British Regulars fired and fled,
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
>From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load."

By dawn on April 19, 1775, some 70 minutemen had gathered at Lexington to oppose British troops – 700 strong -- headed from Boston to Concord. As the organizers of Battle Road 2000, which is re-enacting these events this week, recount the scene at Lexington Green: "A shot rang out. No one really knows who fired first, but the British, hearing the shot, fired upon the small group of militia, killing 8, and wounding 10 more. The militia then retreated into the woods to avoid the British fire. So started the first battle in the American Revolutionary War."

Soon after, the Redcoats reached Concord and encountered between 300 and 400 armed minutemen at the famed North Bridge over the Concord River. The British troops retreated toward Boston. By the end of the day, nearly 100 colonialists had fallen for the cause of freedom.

It's hard to believe that one of the most liberal, pro-tax, anti-gun states in the country today was the home of the musket-toting sons and daughters of liberty.

Two centuries after the minutemen used their guns to oppose unreasonable tyranny, the state of Massachusetts clamped trigger locks on two of the historic muskets from Lexington and Concord that hang in the state Senate chamber. The Patriots Day celebration this year was nearly derailed because of stringent gun-control laws embraced by the state. Last week, the Massachusetts attorney general greatly expanded his regulatory oversight of guns as "consumer products" and announced plans to conduct sting operations – a la Thomas Gage -- on federally-licensed dealers.

Elsewhere, thirty cities and counties have filed 20 separate lawsuits against the gun industry. The grip of gun-control hysteria has even led one New Jersey nursery school to expel four toddlers for simply pretending to shoot guns with their index fingers. And a million misguided moms will march against gun ownership next month in Washington, D.C.

Who would have guessed that the shots heard 'round the world 225 years ago would fall on deaf ears in a nation now more sympathetic to the gun-grabbing Redcoat than the gun-bearing rebel?

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate